South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

TechGateway and South Florida Tech Hub team up for TechGatway Day and new regional tech map

Read Time 3 Minutes

The Greater Fort Lauderdale’s regional initiative, TechGateway, released its new map of South Florida tech companies just in time for TechGateway Day 2024.

The South Florida TechGateway is a public/private partnership to grow, attract and retain technology business, capital and talent here in the thriving South Florida area. The initiaitive is supported by South Florida Tech Hub, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Wells Fargo and the Miami Dade Beacon Council.

Each year, TechGateway works with regional partners such as Tech Hub to aggregate businesses and technology companies across the three counties – Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade – that deserve recognition and visibility across the ecosystem. The map is then used to promote the region’s growing tech community to local students, higher education institutions, and new graduates outside the region looking for potential job opportunities.

“We’re proud to present the 2024 TechGateway map, launched at the South Florida Tech Hub Golf Tournament, ” Randall Deich, Director of Talent Attraction & Education at Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

“This tool does more than just showcase our tech region—it’s a strategic resource to attract businesses and top talent to South Florida. Our partnership with South Florida Tech Hub enhances the local tech culture, supports talent retention, and contributes to the vibrant community that makes South Florida a great place to work in the CLOUD and live in the SUN.”

“Thanks go to our partners Florida Power & Light, Wells Fargo, Miami-Dade Beacon Council, and South Florida Tech Hub for their support and efforts in coordinating, cooperating, and collaborating in this regional effort.”

The map was completed just in time for this year’s ‘TechGateway Day’ where technology professionals go into Broward County classrooms and provided a glimpse into the diverse and exciting tech career opportunities in South Florida. It’s an effort in partnership with the Broward County School District’s middle and high schools to expose students to local career exploration.

From Sunrise to Parkland and Hollywood, South Florida Tech Hub worked closely with the TechGateway team this year to ensure we had almost twenty Broward County public schools covered this year. Tech Hub members from CITY Furniture, Florida Power & Light (FPL), LAN InfoTech, CloudHesive, FAU Tech Runway and UKG all had representatives attend the schools, interact with the students, and contrubute to making this year’s event a true sucess.

“It’s very clear that at a younger and younger age yechnology is becoming more and more accessible. I think it’s really important to connect while they’re connecting and learning about technology which is now more in middle school than it is in high school,” said John Machado, CTO of UKG.

“What was most impactful was actually seeing them present their own projects and the camaraderie and the ability to help each other show really positive feedback as they showed their projects. I thought that was incredible – the energy and passion they have.”

“TechGateway Day is a pivotal bridge for our students, many of whom interacted with industry leaders for the first time, seeing themselves as the tech talent of tomorrow. This event has narrowed the gap between today’s innovations and the future’s possibilities, thanks to your support and participation. The day was a tremendous success, thanks to the collective efforts of our tech professionals, educators, and students.,” wrote Deich in a social media post thanking speakers and partners.

To learn more about The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, please visit

By Nikki Cabus

FIRST Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awards multiple teams with honors & on to World Championship

Read Time 7 Minutes

The FIRST® Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awarded several teams with honors that rewarded design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of STEM, FIRST® Robotics Competition (ages 14-18) teams use sophisticated technology to build and program industrial-sized robots to play an action-packed, alliance-based game on a themed field. With professional mentors and sponsors, students learn engineering and problem-solving skills that they can apply to real-world situations today and in the future. Using Gracious Professionalism, each team creates a team identity, raises funds to meet its goals, and works to promote STEM in their community.

Attended by thousands of fans, families, educators and industry leaders, the regional competition was held at the Broward County Convention Center on March 1st & 2nd. Forty high school teams competed to earn a spot at the FIRST® Championship, to be held April 17-20 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

With the hope of winning one of the several coveted awards, high school students worked with professional mentors to design and build a robot over a six-week period that solved a problem using a Kit of Parts and a standard set of rules.

“Each team clearly demonstrated teamwork, professionalism, and strategic thinking in solving the competition’s challenges,” said Sandra Contreras, Regional Director, FIRST ®  South Florida.

“Students, school groups, community members, and professional team mentors filled the stands and helped to bring a level of fun and excitement to the competition. With the sustained support of the South Florida community, this robotics competition will continue to grow and inspire students to study math, science, and engineering.”

“It’s safe to say the South Florida Regional has been upgraded to the status of LEGENDARY because we had 5-game finals (normally 2)!”

Among the many highlights of the competition, the winners of the coveted ‘Impact Award’ were the SigmaC@ts from Dillard High School – Team 108 (cover photo). They have won the wonderful opportunity to go to the World Championshipin Houston, Texas, but now need the community’s help to them get the funds to travel.

The FIRST Impact Award (formerly the Chairman’s Award) is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.

The SimgaC@T robotics team was founded in 1995 at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. As the oldest consecutively running FRC team in Florida, the SigmaC@T Robotics Team has a rich history built on community, equity, and diversity.

CRESCENDOSM presented by Haas is part of the 2024 FIRST IN SHOWSM presented by Qualcomm season. In CRESCENDO, teams are encouraged to see all that is possible when combining their creative ideas and innovations with engineering and design. Through collaboration and communication, the FIRST robotics community around the world will celebrate the role that the arts play in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Our skills make it possible to create art and experiences that bring us together, entertain us, and move us.

FIRST has a proven impact to significantly improve students’ attitudes towards math, science, and teamwork.

With approximately 40 registered teams from across the county and even some international team, 25 were from South Florida and the Treasure Coast ranging from Miami to Stuart and over to Naples, Florida, there was quite the competition to be had. Ashton Adler, South Florida Tech Hub’s Director of Talnt Engagement, stopped to take photos with some of the local teams including Miami Coral Park Senior High (pictured here) who took home the “Innovation in Control Award.”

Another one of those teams was, S.P.A.M. from Stuart, Florida, who were the Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) and took home the “Quality Award.” The team was sponsored by Florida Power & Light (FPL), one of the competition’s largest supporters each year. This year is FPL’s 12th year as a sponsor and mentor organization.

Zach Dean, the team’s mechanical lead, credits team mentor Elizabeth “Lily” Pawlak for expanding his machine skills and teaching him how to use the power tools and industrial machinery it takes to build the robots. Twelve years ago, Pawlak was a machinist for S.P.A.M. too, participating in the same competitions her mentees are in now and crafting robot parts from scratch. Today, she’s an equipment reliability engineer supporting Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) nuclear fleet.

“I wanted to come back and be a mentor because I want to show them that it’s not just a fun thing to do in high school, that it really can be an opportunity for your future,” Pawlak said. “I’ve taught them basic skills like how to use a tape measure to more advanced skills like how to use a milla lathe and Computer Numerical Control machining.”

One of the main benefits of STEM education is helping students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which they can apply beyond the classroom. It also equips them to succeed in a rapidly changing world driven by technology and innovation.

Pawlak said robotics geared her toward engineering. It also helped her start a career at FPL. 

“I met a lot of incredible people back then, professionals who volunteered their time at these competitions, and I maintained those connections throughout college,” she said. “These connections really make a difference for the children involved. It shows them companies care, that companies are interested in them and that they have a future if they ever want to look forward to career opportunities with them.”

South Florida Tech Hub Board Member, CEO of eSilo, and FIRST judge, Cathy Miron, told Tech Hub, “I was reminded once again why I am passionate about supporting FIRST. This organization not only fosters a love for science, technology and engineering among young minds, but also cultivates essential skills like teamwork, leadership (what FIRST calls Gracious Professionalism), and problem-solving. My involvement with FIRST, which spans three years, has been a journey filled with inspiration and learning.”

Cathy continued reminiscing on this year’s competition, “This year, something that particularly stood out to me were the countless examples of cross-team mentorship that I heard and observed. These are teams who are competing against one another for an opportunity to go to the World Championships in April and represent their schools and communities, and yet I watched kids go out of their way to help their competitors by sharing tools and spare parts, or troubleshooting another team’s robot, or helping fix a bug in their code in between matches.”

“These kids exemplified what FIRST is all about: pushing boundaries, embracing challenges, and working collaboratively to achieve something truly remarkable. Their dedication and spirit were a true highlight of the weekend, and a reminder of the incredible impact FIRST has in shaping our next generation of innovators and leaders.”

Winners of the FIRST Robotics Competition 2024 South Florida Regional Awards include :

  • Regional FIRST Impact Award (Championship Qualifying Award) – 108 SigmaC@T Robotics Team – Dillard High School
  • Regional Engineering Inspiration Award (Championship Qualifying Award) – 3627 The Jungle Robotics – Pine View School
  • FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award – 3390 Can O- ANATOLIAN EAGLEBOTS
  • FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award – 5472 Derin A – The Wyld Stallyns
  • Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) – 179 Children of the Swamp – Inlet Grove Community High School
  • Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) – 180 S.P.A.M. – Martin County District High Schools
  • Regional Winners – 744 Shark Attack – Westminster Academy
  • Regional Finalists – 2383 Ninjineers – American Heritage
  • Regional Finalists – 5557 BB-R8ERS – Gulliver Preparatory School
  • Regional Finalists – 8817 Buccaneer Robotics – South Dade Senior High School
  • Woodie Flowers Finalist Award – 3627 Andrew Wormington – The Jungle Robotics
  • Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors – 5557 BB-R8ERS – Gulliver Preparatory School
  • Judges’ Award – 8861 – 06ANGORA – Ambassade de France en Turquie- Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle – Ankara
  • Rookie All Star Award – 9404 Forge – Family/Community
  • Rookie Inspiration Award – 9779 Gladiator Robotics – Hialeah Gardens Sr High School
  • Team Sustainability Award sponsored by Dow – 6317 Disruptive Innovation – West High School
  • Team Spirit Award – 6743 Tiger Engineering – Dunbar High School
  • Excellence in Engineering Award – 179 Children of the Swamp – Inlet Grove Community High School
  • Gracious Professionalism Award – 694 StuyPulse – Stuyvesant High School
  • Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation – 1744 Robo-Rays Robotics – Seacrest Country Day School
  • Quality Award – 180 S.P.A.M. – Martin County District High Schools
  • Innovation in Control Award – 59 RamTech – Miami Coral Park Sr High School
  • Autonomous Award – 4458 Infernobotix – Center Moriches High School
  • Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen – 1523 MARS (Mega Awesome Robotic Systems) – William T Dwyer High School & Palm Beach Gardens Community HS & Jupiter Community High School
  • Volunteer of the Year – Bill Landin – Lead Robot Inspector
  • Volunteer of the Year – Mark Hamilton – Alumni
  • Volunteer of the Year – Robert Cherinka – Judge


Learn more at

By Nikki Cabus

Delta Air Lines and LATAM join forces for inaugural job shadowing project empowering youth for success

Read Time 5 Minutes

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group united to extend thier inaugural Job Shadow Day at Miami International Airport.

Twenty-five students from the New World School of the Arts located in downtown Miami were given the opportunity to walk through a “day in the life” through a transformative experience including simulated real-world exercises where volunteers introduced them to career opportunities in aviation.

Through the Joint Venture between Delta and LATAM group, the global airlines seamlessly collaborate both in the skies and on the ground, inspiring the next generation of talented individuals who will shape the future. Delta and LATAM reinforce a shared vision for a brighter and more interconnected future, where the collective efforts of these influential airlines contribute to positive and lasting impacts on a global scale.

Since implementing their transformative partnership in 2022, the award-winning airlines have made travel between North and South America easier and more enjoyable than ever by expanding their route networks, optimizing their flight schedules and airport operations, and offering travelers improved access to 300 destinations on the two continents. This is why Delta and LATAM – like travelers, their loved ones, friends and destinations – complement each other and are “Meant to be Together,” as their new campaign suggests.

“Delta strives to make an impact by building intentional, purposeful partnerships in our communities that help address the hopes and needs of real people and spark meaningful change in the world,” said Luciano Macagno, Delta Managing Director for Latin American, the Caribbean and South Florida.

Educational endeavors such as the Job Shadopw Day play a crucial role in empowering young minds to visualize and pursue fulfilling career trajectories. This initiative not only granted the students invaluable firsthand experience but also provided them with the chance to glean insights from seasoned aviation professionals at Delta and LATAM. The event offered a distinctive behind-the-scenes glimpse into the intricate workings and operations of Miami International Airport, fostering a deepened understanding and connection to the dynamic world of the aviation industry.

Miami International Airport is America’s busiest airport for international freight and the second busiest for international passengers. MIA offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport and is also the leading economic engine for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida with an expansive workforce community of more than 37,000 employees. The airport generates business revenue of $31.9 billion and approximately 60 percent of all international visitors to Florida annually.

“At LATAM Airlines Group we thank our partner Delta for the invitation to participate in this Job Shadow experience,” said Gonzalo Ramírez, North America & Caribbean Airports Senior Manager LATAM Group.

“We are constantly looking to connect with the communities where we operate, so we are excited to connect with young people who will be the future professionals of the industry. At the same time, as the leading airline group in South America, we want them to know that the prospects for development in the sector are international, which adds to the attractiveness of pursuing a career in this field.”

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group partnered with Junior Achievemt of Greater Miami on this initiaitive. Each day, JA MIami works to help young people discover what’s possible in their lives. The nonprofit does this by helping them connect what they learn in school with life outside the classroom. JA Miami strives to let students know it’s possible to invest in their future, to gain a better understanding of how the world works, and to pursue their dreams.

JA Miami is dedicated to giving young people in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers and educators, and offer relevant, hands-on experiences that provide 40,000 students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled to partner with Delta and LATAM to provide students with this unique JA Job Shadow experience,” said Mariana Furchi Sly, Executive Vice President, Junior Achievement of Greater Miami. “Many of these students have never been to the airport and aren’t aware that so many job opportunities exist. This program helps show them possibilities for their futures.”

In addition to supporting the JA Job Shadow program, Delta sponsored 80 high school students’ participation in the JA Stock Market Challenge in October 2023, and facilitated travel for a team of high school students from Coral Gables Senior High to attend a national competition last summer in Washington, D.C. As part of Delta’s work to fuel a diverse aviation talent pipeline and build an organization that is reflective of the communities where we live, work and serve, Delta prioritizes partnerships that enable young aviators and students to envision their own future in the industry.

“It was truly inspiring to witness the curiosity and enthusiasm of the students as they delved into the details of the aviation industry and explored the diverse array of roles within our organizations. From witnessing ground operations in action to gaining insights into the complexities of flying, the students embarked on a fascinating journey of discovery,” shared Ignacio Borbollo, Delta Head of Sales, Market Development & Community Partnerships – Regional Manager, South Florida

“As a proud member of the JA Young Professional board, I was thrilled to play a part in providing these young minds with a firsthand glimpse into the dynamic world of travel and aviation. It’s moments like these that ignite passion and spark ambition in the next generation of leaders.”

In addition to this project, Delta has connected with students around the world through its many partnerships and programs – such as Delta Business Class, Delta’s Propel Academy, Delta’s WING Flight, HBCU engagement, the Aviation Maintenance Airframe Certificate Program and more.

To learn more about Delta’s Student & Earl Careers Programs, visit

By Nikki Cabus

2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties

Read Time 4 Minutes

On January 30th and 31st, almost 2000 high school students in both Palm Beach and Broward counties hosted events allowing for a day of career exploration.

An ecominic development and career readiness initiative, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, CareerSource Palm Beach, and the Palm Beach and Broward County school distrcits hosted events in their respective counties to showcase career opportunities to high school students. Companies were invited to participate as exhitors, speakers, mock interview volunteers, and more.

The “Claim Your Future Showcase,” was started by The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and and then Broward County got in on the action hopsting their own as well. Each year, the goal of the events are to inspire and showcase the many career paths available to local high school students from the School District of Palm Beach County and Broward County in hopes that the students stay in South Florida after graduation. It’s a day for businesses to shine a light on their industries and for students to take another step toward their future careers.

In Palm Beach County, almost 1200 students had the opportunity to meet with companies such as Amazon, Bank of America, Cox Science Center, Discover the Palm Beaches, ESPN West Palm, Farm Credit, Finfrock, Florida Crystals, Florida Power & Light, HCA Healthcare, HotelPlanner, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Keiser University, Kravis Center for Performing Arts, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Memorial Healthcare System, Nova Southeastern University, Oxbow Carbon, , Palm Beach County Planning, Zoning & Building, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach State College, PBC STEM Ecosystem, Port of Palm Beach, Regions Bank, School District of Palm Beach County, The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute, Tropical Shipping, U.S. Army, Wells Fargo and many others.

In Broward County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, in partnership with Broward County Public Schools, hosted the 7th annual Claim Your Future Showcase. The Broward event offered workforce preparation and business exposure to nearly 1,000 students from Career and Technical Education programs awaiting them in our community.

One of those companies was LAN InfoTech, a professional information technology consulting and engineering firm specializing in cybersecurity. Glen Benjamin, LAN InfoTech’s Community Account Manager and South Florida Tech Hub Board Member attended the event as an exhibitor.

Glen is a huge advocate in the community supporting talent and workforce development efforts and STEAM events for students all acros the South Florida region. Creating a proper pipeline of talent and then ensuring they are aware of the opportunities locally are crucial to building a strong and thriving ecosystem for years to come.

The day was filled with workforce development activities, including mock interviews, an executive panel discussion, and a showcase of local businesses. The sponsors that made this possible were: Advanced Roofing, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Memorial Healthcare System, Amerant Bank Arena, and Delaware North.

“Investing in our future is important. These are the future leaders of our community,” said Ft. Lauderdale City Manager, Greg Chevarria.

The panelists included:

  • Greg Chavarria | City Manager for Fort Lauderdale
  • Andrew Zullo | CEO of Leadership Broward
  • Barkha Herman, Technology CEO and non-profit founder
  • Cathy Miron | President and CEO of eSilo
  • Bryce Hollweg | COO of Florida Panthers
  • Bob Swindell | President and CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

“Events like these have a profound impact on students, especially young women, many of whom are interested in careers in tech, but aren’t sure how to get started or who worry they don’t “fit the mold,” said Cathy Miron, CEO of eSilo and Tech Hub Board Member.

“There are plenty of local women blazing new trails across South Florida and I hope that our stories inspire the next generation of women engineers, developers, cyber analysts, and project managers,” she continued.

Students not only have the chance to meet with local employers, but they have the chance to practice networking and communication skills, apply for internships, and hear from local experts on the benefits of staying local, the business economy we have in South Florida, and some of the exciting work being done right in their backyard!


By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College receives $8M from Related Companies towards student scholarships

Read Time 4 Minutes

The Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars Program at Palm Beach State College, created by Related Companies, was announced last month during a ceremony at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. The $8 million gift will support West Palm Beach students in grades 7-12 and follow them through their postsecondary education with full scholarships at Palm Beach State.

“This gift is going to accelerate opportunities for West Palm Beach residents and businesses by helping remove the leading barrier to economic growth, and that’s the knowledge gap,” said PBSC President Ava. L. Parker, J.D. “What’s so amazing about working with Stephen and his vision is that he understands that it’s not enough just to say to 12th-graders it’s time to go to college and here’s a scholarship. He understands the communication and the partnership must start so much earlier in the lives of these students.”

The $8 million gift, the first contribution of the Related Together grantmaking foundation, will ensure that every future graduate of Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill High Schools will receive a full scholarship to Palm Beach State College. The Related Together contribution will also be used to fund college readiness programs for students in grades 7-12 to help prepare them for pathways to a postsecondary education and career credentials that will bolster Palm Beach County’s future workforce.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Ross during the ceremony. “You want to live to have an impact and do things that can really benefit people. West Palm Beach and Related Together are really in a position to do that and become the model city for this country.”

Additionally, an Early College Academy will be developed at the two West Palm Beach high schools, which will include paid academic advisors and peer-to-peer student mentors. These student mentors will receive a stipend. The program will also focus on preparing students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

The program was developed in partnership with the Foundation for Palm Beach State College led by Vice President of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation David Rutherford, who attended the ceremony.

Attending the ceremony with Parker and Rutherford were Chairman of Related Companies and philanthropist Stephen Ross; Related Together Board Chair Gopal Rajegowda; Mayor of West Palm Beach Keith James; West Palm Beach Commissioners Christina Lambert, Christy Fox and Cathleen Ward; President of the Quantum Foundation Eric Kelly; PBSC former District Board of Trustees Chair Carolyn Williams; PBSC Foundation and Quantum Foundation board members; and others.

“This partnership will help accomplish my administration’s goal and that is to make West Palm Beach a community of opportunity for all,” said Mayor James during the event.

Each year, Related Together will contribute funds to implement projects and programs focused on six pillars, including education, housing, income and employment opportunities, health care access, arts and culture engagement, and digital accessibility. The success of each program will be defined by attracting scalable philanthropic investments and proactive grantmaking to launch new programs with the goal to reverse the cycle of poverty and support a cycle of growth.

“Related Together’s model is to have businesses that are coming here invest into the community through this program and work with local leaders to bring accelerated and immediate changes that will shape generations of people,” said Rajegowda at the celebration.

In partnership with Related Companies, Related Together was built through the expertise of local leaders, such as Kelly who is recognized for transformative change in underserved communities.

“These neighborhoods have been resilient, and they have resolved to succeed,” said Kelly. “I’m grateful for the leadership of our mayor, Stephen, Gopal, and in particular Ava Parker to acknowledge that these communities have been ready, they certainly are ready and now they have the opportunity to strive and make life better.”

Three pillars of the Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars initiative will help equip students and schools with resources to ensure postsecondary attendance, retention, and completion, leading to career readiness and personal success. The pillars include having Palm Beach State advisors embedded into the high schools to work closely with school counselors to guide students through the dual enrollment selection and registration process.

In addition, the Stephen M. Ross Early College Academy gives access to health sciences, STEM and other high-demand career pathways that empower the individual and impact the community.

Related Together’s organizational structure is comprised of key executive representatives, including Ross, Jeff Brodsky, Ken Himmel, Bruce Warwick, a Board of Directors including Rajegowda, Treasurer Katie Block, and Secretary Jordan Rathlev and supported through local partners and stakeholders, such as the Quantum Foundation, and others to be announced.

For more information and how to support, please visit

By Nikki Cabus

Office Depot Stores Raise Nearly $1.7 Million to Help Teachers and Students

Read Time 4 Minutes

Office Depot just announced that nearly $1.7 million was raised leveraging its retail footprint to help more than 900 Title I public schools get brand new school supplies, classroom furniture, tech and more, just in time for the new school year.

The company partnered with Round It Up America® to enable every Office Depot and OfficeMax store to raise funds to support a Title I public elementary, middle or high school in the store’s local community. As result of this program, nearly $1.7 million was raised from April through June of this year. Stores will continue to support the same local schools through December to help them restock and refresh the supplies they need, well after the start of the new school year.

Some local beneficiary schools will have the chance to participate in free VIP school shopping events to pick up furniture, supplies and more, to help create more comfortable and productive learning environments for students. Others will create wish lists detailing the items they need most, which will then be delivered to them at the school or available for pick up at their local Office Depot or OfficeMax store.

“We’re proud to host this education donation drive in our Office Depot and OfficeMax stores to help connect teachers and staff at Title I schools with the additional resources they need,” said Kevin Moffitt, executive vice president of The ODP Corporation and president of Office Depot. “Thanks to our customers’ generous support of this program, extra supplies, new classroom furniture, tech and more will be directed to hundreds of schools to help encourage a successful new school year.”

The program is an integral part of Office Depot’s Imagine Success™ platform, created to help teachers, parents, students, home office workers and small business owners alike fuel their passions, power their potential and achieve their goals.

Through the new Imagine Success brand platform, the company will capture and share real stories of success, from the epic to the everyday. These stories, along with inspirational videos and articles, informative studies, and helpful strategies, will be amplified throughout Office Depot’s marketing campaigns, social media profiles,, mobile app, and on the company’s content hub, The Stepping Stone. In addition, small business owners, home office workers, teachers, parents and students can tap into experiences with solutions designed just for them – complete with helpful buying guides, pro tips and more to help them unlock their full potential.

“We’re excited to learn how our customers define success, whether it’s acquiring a customer with new marketing materials, creating a productive learning environment where students can thrive or in ways we haven’t yet thought of,” said Wesley Brinkhurst, vice president of marketing for Office Depot. “With the launch of our Imagine Success platform, we plan to engage with our customers differently, learning more about how we can provide innovative solutions, create meaningful connections and put them in the spotlight.”

Start Proud!® Program

The company also helps to support education through The ODP Corporation’s Start Proud!® program, and recently announced that over $2.5 million worth of school supplies and equipment would be provided to students and teachers at Title I public elementary schools across the country.


Give Back to Schools Program

And students, parents and teachers who shop online at or in Office Depot and OfficeMax stores can help to support the local school of their choice with any qualifying purchase. Shoppers can simply provide the name or Give Back To Schools ID number of their desired school at checkout (in store or online) and their designated school will receive 5% back in credits for free supplies, through the Give Back to Schools program.

Simply make a purchase of qualifying school supplies, provide your school’s ID at checkout (in store and online) and your designated school will receive 5% back in credits for FREE supplies! It’s a small act that can make a huge difference.

Office Depot, LLC, an operating company of The ODP Corporation, is a leading specialty retailer providing innovative products and services delivered through a fully integrated omnichannel platform of Office Depot and OfficeMax retail stores and an award-winning online presence,, to support the productivity and organization of its small business, home office and education clients. Office Depot is committed to enabling its clients’ success, strengthening local communities and providing equal opportunities for all.

Visit or speak with a friendly store associate at a local Office Depot or OfficeMax store to learn more.

By Nikki Cabus

University of Miami students among finalists at this year’s AWE XR Prize Challenge on Fighting Climate Change

Read Time 4 Minutes

The University of Miami‘s The Mangrove City project is among this year’s finalists for the AWE 2023 XR Challenge. 

Mangrove City is a VR experience designed for middle school students to explore the crucial role of mangrove forests in protecting coastal communities and mitigating climate change. The VR experience was developed by a team of University faculty, staff members, and students as a part of UM’s XR Initiative active in the fields of architecture, health care, sustainability, climate change, art history, behavioral research, human-computer interfaces, UI/UX, new media, and narrative/storytelling research.

Augmented World Expo. or AWE, launched the “XR Prize Challenge: Fight Climate Change” in October 2022. The challenge gives subject matter experts, engineers, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other professionals an avenue where they can use XR technology to visualize information and create potential solutions to fight climate change. A group or individual has a chance at winning a cash prize of $100,000.

There were four distinct categories under which entrants could submit their nominations. These categories were:
  1. Replacing Wasteful Material Consumption – For solutions that demonstrate that XR is a viable medium for reducing society’s dependence on wasteful transportation, consumption of goods, and unsustainable real estate development.
  2. Visualizing The Causes & Impacts of Climate Change – For solutions that demonstrate XR’s unique ability to educate people about the causes and effects of climate change, and influence behaviors and policies to promote equity and fairness.
  3. Educating About Solutions to Climate Change – For solutions that demonstrate XR as a unique story-telling medium for giving a voice to climatologists and sustainability solutions providers, providing them with a powerful platform to educate communities and expand their reach.
  4. Optimizing Design & Execution of Climate Solutions – For solutions that demonstrate XR as a unique decision-optimization tool, enabling professionals to design and develop perfected solutions that give us the best possible chance to mitigate and reverse climate change.

In January 2023, with hundreds of submissions from around the world, 150 projects from six different continents were chosen to move onto the MVP Phase.” They had to demonstrate a minimum viable product and highlight to judges exactly how their solutions addressed aspects of:

  1. Creativity – Entrants had to demonstrate how their submissions exhibited appropriateness, quality, beauty, design, and originality, as well as highlight the uniqueness of their XR product or project as a solution for fighting climate change.
  2. Functionality – Entrants had to show how their submissions took into account a range of functional requirements, including thoughtful user experience, access, ease of use, and an innovative user interaction associated with their XR-based solutions.
  3. Impact – Entrants had to quantify the impact that their XR-based solutions would have and demonstrate how they would deliver on their promise to fight climate change, including the viability of the solution in the marketplace, its ability to be scaled, and how a solution would be demonstrated or calculated to achieve its intended effect.

Then, on May 3rd,  2023, AWE announced the finalists for the XR Prize challenge – only 11 were chosen – and the University of Miami made the cut!

AWE’s website states that “many of the finalists demonstrated innovative ways in which augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology can be used to help humanity in its fight against one of the biggest existential threats that we are facing as a species today – climate change.”

“It’s humbling to work with so many diverse teams haling from all around the globe and truly inspiring to see and experience so many creative proposals to harness XR in our fight against climate change,” said Dace Campbell, XR Prize Manager, ”

Dace is a professionally licensed architect with extensive experience developing and implementing strategy and innovation with an expertise in XR technology: researching, developing, testing, and applying XR on hundreds of successful projects. Throughout his career, Dace has been a champion for the  the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in industry. He has proven they enhance productivity, sustainability, and equity for designers, builders, and owners winning multiple awards for furthering industry excellence. 

👉🏽 Check out UM’s video here. 🎥

Each team will demonstrate their solutions at final presentations in-person in front of a live judging panel on May 30th at AWE 2023 held in Santa Clara, California. The XR Prize winner(s) will be announced on June 1 at the event during the Auggie Awards ceremony.

The judges panel includes:

  • Katerina Cizek – Award-winning documentary director whose body of work includes documenting the Digital Revolution. Cizek is also the co-founder of the Co-Creation Studio.
  • Robert Fine – Executive director and founder of the International Virtual Reality and Healthcare Association (IVRHA).
  • Marina Psaros – Sustainability expert who has over a decade of experience leading climate action programs. Psaros is also Unity’s global sustainability lead.
  • Dr. Erika Woolsey – Dr. Woolsey is a marine biologist, as well as the chief scientist and co-founder of the Hydrous, a non-profit organization that uses science-based experiences and scalable solutions, such as VR, to further our understanding of and education on ocean science.
To view all 11 finalist projects selected for the final round, click here.
TechGateway and South Florida Tech Hub team up for TechGatway Day and new regional tech map
FIRST Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awards multiple teams with honors & on to World Championship
Delta Air Lines and LATAM join forces for inaugural job shadowing project empowering youth for success
2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties
Palm Beach State College receives $8M from Related Companies towards student scholarships
Office Depot Stores Raise Nearly $1.7 Million to Help Teachers and Students
University of Miami students among finalists at this year’s AWE XR Prize Challenge on Fighting Climate Change